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SWFL prepares to put on holiday events during pandemic

Despite what has been a rise in coronavirus cases in Florida since October, several events are still planned Southwest Florida for this week.

  • Downtown Fort Myers will put on Art Walk and Music Walk
  • Fort Myers Beach’s boat parade is still a go
  • The Naples Christmas Walk and Tree Lighting Ceremony is also being held

All these popular events will look a bit different during the pandemic.

Organizers for the boat parade on Fort Myers Beach and all of the other upcoming events are emphasizing the importance of masks, social distancing and sanitizing.

Businesses told us these events bring increased crowds. While some people think it’s too soon for that, others say they are excited to have events happening around Southwest Florida again.

Music Walk and Art Walk in downtown Fort Myers are two of the many things people such as Yolie Ellis missed during the pandemic.

“It just brought life to the area,” Ellis said.

The two events returned in November and will happen again in December, accompanied by signs encouraging masks and social distancing.

“Anything that restores life to some sort of normality,” Howard Kunkel said.

Ellis loves these events but does not believe the time is now.

“It’s just too soon with the COVID virus to have that many people together,” Ellis said.

Businesses downtown say more events are good news for them.

“We did notice a lot of people come out for those nights,” said Robert Podgorski, the owner of Green Cup Café. “Being a coffee shop it was nice to have a couple of people for some late-night coffee and smoothies and dining.”

On Fort Myers Beach, businesses, such as Nervous Nellies, are gearing up for the Christmas boat parade Saturday, which normally draws people to their restaurant patio to watch.

“We are super thankful. It’s a great business day for us,” said Andrew Wiersma, the manager of Nervous Nellies.

Nervous Nellies says it plans to keep tables spaced out as people watch the boat parade from the patio on the back bay this weekend.

For Christmas on 5th in Naples, NCH is helping with masks and sanitizing stations to keep everyone safe.

Although events such as the boat parade, Art walk and Christmas on 5th Ave. normally draw more people out than usual, Tom and Nancy Cooper believe, with masks, social distancing and the fresh outdoor air, everyone can enjoy safely.

“I’m just excited to see Florida kind of coming back alive, but everybody needs to still be careful,” Nancy said.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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